Our Wildlife and Uplands program works to promote healthy ecosystems and preserve the “working landscape” in the Big Hole River watershed through habitat conservation, invasive species management, wildlife conflict reduction, and community education & outreach. The goals of our Wildlife & Uplands program are to:

  • Maintain habitat connectivity and migration corridors to benefit wildlife;
  • Support ranching, maintenance of open space, and land stewardship;
  • Manage invasive species through treatment, prevention, and education;
  • Prevent conflicts with predators and other wildlife;
  • Conserve, improve, and restore upland and sagebrush habitats;
  • Support voluntary action and improvement over regulatory enforcement; and
  • Provide education and outreach regarding relevant wildlife & habitat topics.


BHWC formed its wildlife subcommittee in 2008 in response to public concern regarding wildlife issues in the Big Hole watershed. The subcommittee is led by Jim Hagenbarth and Dean Peterson, Big Hole Valley ranchers, and coordinated by Tana Nulph, BHWC Associate Director. The wildlife subcommittee invites participation and solutions from all perspectives and stakeholders.

Video: Ranching with Wolves in the Big Hole Valley

The primary objective of the subcommittee is to provide wildlife conflict reduction to help both ranchers and wildlife thrive in a predator-rich environment. With that in mind, BHWC has developed several wildlife programs and initiatives, including livestock carcass removal & composting during calving/lambing, bear-safety training & distribution of bear-resistant garbage cans, and a range rider who patrols summer grazing allotments monitoring for predator activity and livestock condition. We also participate in the landowner-led, regional wildlife conflict reduction group coordinated by the Heart of the Rockies initiative and provide carcass removal to Sage Creek ranchers for the Centennial Valley Association.

BHWC’s wildlife conflict reduction initiative is a collaborative effort with many partners and contributors, including People and Carnivores, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, WCS Community Partnerships Program, Defenders of Wildlife, USFWS-Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife, USFWS-Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, the Montana Livestock Loss Board, the Cinnabar Foundation, the Vital Ground Foundation, and many local ranchers who have contributed wood chips, use of heavy equipment, knowledge, donations, and more.

Conflict Reduction Programs: 

Carcass Removal & Composting
Upper Big Hole Range Rider
Bear Safety

Wildlife Speaker Series

Each year, the Big Hole Watershed Committee co-sponsors a Wildlife Speaker Series event with the Wildlife Conservation Society Community Partnerships program. The event is hosted in the Big Hole (often on a local ranch), is free to the public and open to all ages, includes a meal, and focuses on a wildlife species native to the Big Hole watershed. Presentations are interactive and include information on a wildlife species or other relevant wildlife topic.

About the Wildlife Speaker Series: The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Community Partnership Program hosts a Wildlife Speaker Series each summer to increase awareness about our less controversial wildlife and engage with our local community through walks, tours, and presentations. WCS joins with local conservation groups to share interesting wildlife facts at local historical and conservation oriented venues. These events provide a social opportunity for learning and foster relationships with community members and wildlife experts. To learn more about the Wildlife Speaker Series, click here.


We work with a variety of partners, supporters, and funders, including (but not limited to): Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, People and Carnivores, Wildlife Conservation Society – Community Partnerships Program, Defenders of Wildlife, Montana Department of Transportation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Livestock Loss Board, Cinnabar Foundation, Vital Ground Foundation, Centennial Valley Association, Heart of the Rockies Initiative, and the Blackfoot Challenge.

A Note on our Weeds Committee:

BHWC’s weeds subcommittee and Weed Whackers Ball are now being housed by the Montana Weed Control Association. From 2005–2015, BHWC included the Big Hole Watershed Weeds Subcommittee, which hosted the annual “Weed Whacker’s Ball” in Wise River. In 2015, the weeds subcommittee moved to the Montana Weed Control Association (MWCA) and assumed the name “Big Hole Basin Cooperative Weed Management Working Group”. The MWCA supports noxious weed management efforts state-wide.

BHWC remains involved in weed control through community education and support of our local weed control groups.